Volume 188, 2016

The cluster beam route to model catalysts and beyond


The generation of beams of atomic clusters in the gas phase and their subsequent deposition (in vacuum) onto suitable catalyst supports, possibly after an intermediate mass filtering step, represents a new and attractive approach for the preparation of model catalyst particles. Compared with the colloidal route to the production of pre-formed catalytic nanoparticles, the nanocluster beam approach offers several advantages: the clusters produced in the beam have no ligands, their size can be selected to arbitrarily high precision by the mass filter, and metal particles containing challenging combinations of metals can be readily produced. However, until now the cluster approach has been held back by the extremely low rates of metal particle production, of the order of 1 microgram per hour. This is more than sufficient for surface science studies but several orders of magnitude below what is desirable even for research-level reaction studies under realistic conditions. In this paper we describe solutions to this scaling problem, specifically, the development of two new generations of cluster beam sources, which suggest that cluster beam yields of grams per hour may ultimately be feasible. Moreover, we illustrate the effectiveness of model catalysts prepared by cluster beam deposition onto agitated powders in the selective hydrogenation of 1-pentyne (a gas phase reaction) and 3-hexyn-1-ol (a liquid phase reaction). Our results for elemental Pd and binary PdSn and PdTi cluster catalysts demonstrate favourable combinations of yield and selectivity compared with reference materials synthesised by conventional methods.

Associated articles

Article information

Article type
18 Nov 2015
19 Jan 2016
First published
20 Jan 2016
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Faraday Discuss., 2016,188, 39-56

The cluster beam route to model catalysts and beyond

P. R. Ellis, C. M. Brown, P. T. Bishop, J. Yin, K. Cooke, W. D. Terry, J. Liu, F. Yin and R. E. Palmer, Faraday Discuss., 2016, 188, 39 DOI: 10.1039/C5FD00178A

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity